The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission rejected recommending to Congress a proposed moratorium on new long-term, acute-care hospitals within existing acute-care facilities. MedPAC Chairman Glenn Hackbarth called a moratorium premature. The commission, however, was unanimous in asserting that long-term, acute-care hospitals must demonstrate they are more than "souped-up skilled-nursing facilities," in the words of one commissioner, to merit the higher payments Medicare gives them. MedPAC unanimously approved a recommendation to define long-term, acute-care hospitals by "criteria that ensure patients are medically complex and have a good chance of improvement," including a 25-day average length of stay. According to MedPAC, there were 318 long-term, acute-care hospitals operating in the U.S. in 2003, up from 105 in 1993, and Medicare payments to such hospitals hit $1.9 billion in 2001, up from $398 million in 1993. Congress is not legally bound to accept MedPAC's recommendations. -- by Jeff Tieman
MedPAC looks at limits for long-term hospitals
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